Black Tech Pipeline CEO chats with Leo to explain why the diversity issues in tech aren't a "pipeline issue." Leo connects Pariss' past career experiences as an actress, wax specialist, and software engineer to her current business as a recruiter. Finally, Pariss gives solid advice on how to get a leg up in a new career path.
By: Leo Yockey
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Leo Yockey show, the podcast where I, Leo Yockey interview guests about how their unique life path led them to define success and fulfillment. We're connecting all the dots to see how someone got from seemingly unrelated beginnings to where they are today. And that's exactly what I do with my guest today, Paris, Athena. Now, a common thread a common theme in a lot of our episodes, so far, have been about networking and meeting people and finding community. And while it's great to find like minded people, no matter what it is that you're doing, I think it's important to remember that listen, everything has a good and a bad side, a light and a dark side, we've talked about this before. And it's great to be able to find a community of like minded people and to build something with them. But what's the potential downside here, if you're only staying within your little bubble of people staying within your echo chamber, so to speak, there's there's a couple of things that can happen here. One, you may be closing yourself up from opportunities where you can get some new perspective that you've never thought about before. And to potentially depending on who you are, you could be perpetuating systemic barriers to access. I don't think any of my listeners want to do that. But seriously, if you're trying to be a leader of any kind, and you look around, and most of the people in your network have the exact same background as you What good is that do? Of course, there are exceptions to that if you're if you're trying to make something that is specifically catered to an underrepresented group, or a historically oppressed group, you know, that's one thing. But that's a whole other conversation of nuance for another day that I don't want to get into being in tech, being a black person in tech, being a transgender person in tech, I got to see a lot of places where leaders just kind of dropped the ball. And they thought, I worked with people who truly thought that they were being diverse or were embracing diversity. But the reality was that they just weren't, they were so close to the problem, that they couldn't even see what they were doing. You know what I mean? What I love about Paris Athena's business is that she solves this problem directly. And it's a problem that I care about deeply. I'm very grateful that there are people like her in this industry. Listen, diversity, and inclusion takes effort. It really does. And it's a skill that can't just be willed into existence overnight. And so I'm really glad that people like Paris are out there doing the work for black technologists. And I hope that there are people out there doing the specialized work for other marginalized groups. You know, we had Valerie Phoenix on the show recently, and she she works more directly with the technologists, whereas Paris works more directly. I mean, she works with the technologists, but she's also working on building relationships directly with employers. And maybe Valerie is doing that too. I don't know. Anyway, I can ramble on about this forever. This is a topic that I'm very passionate about. I've been directly affected by in my own life and have a lot of trauma, honestly, that I have to heal from. And so I am grateful for people like her that are doing the work to make sure that these traumatic experiences can be less frequent, you know, so, anyway, here's Paris. All right, Paris, what's up? How are you doing today? I'm good. I'm happy to be here. Yeah, I'm happy to have you. You're one of the you're one of the people actually one of the first people that I was like, I gotta, I gotta get her on to the show, because I just I love what you're doing with black tech pipeline. I think there's, you know, I've had a few people from the tech world on this show so far. But I think there's a lot. There are a lot of aspects of what you're doing that I think really, really tap into the way that the world is changing in that opportunities are becoming so Much more. So much more accessible to be able to take what we're doing, take the value that we're bringing, and make money off of it. So I'm so excited to have you, I think that this is going to be a great conversation. Yeah, spoiler alert for the listeners, we're in for a great conversation. So, um, so let's dive into it. So before before we even talk about black tech pipeline? Who, who Who are you? What if you're meeting people, you know, what is kind of the elevator pitch that you give for yourself? Who is Paris? Athena? Um, so that's really hard. I don't know why. Hard to answer. Um, it's probably the hardest question anyone ever can answer for sure. Um, yeah, I'm Paris Chandler. But I go by Paris, Athena, from Cambridge, Massachusetts. And I've had a roller coaster of a career. I've done a lot of things in life, and I'm very was it? Is it entrepreneurial, or like, I like to dive into so many different things. I'm just very curious. And I'm a mom, I'm a Yonsei. And this is really hard to answer. So. So yeah, I guess that's it so far. Well, it makes you feel any better. That should be the hardest question of wrestling should be easier. We should it should be smooth sailing for here. So I'm glad that you already said you had a roller coaster of a career because you do have a very interesting background that I did not know about until I was looking you up for the questions for this you. I know that you're the founder of black tech pipeline, which I'll let you explain. I'm sure you have the elevator pitch for that a little bit more down, Pat. So I'll let you explain that in a minute. I knew that you had some sort of career in tech, I didn't know that you were a developer specifically, for some reason, I thought you were a project manager or something. But you were a software engineer, but you were previously an actress, a wax specialist, whatever, whatever that means. Yeah, what what is wax? But do you mean? Like you were, like, just gave people like waxes like like hair removal wax? Yep. Yeah. Okay. I was like, I'm from LA. So I'm like, this could be like, like some some woowoo? Like candlemaking? Like out or no? Right, right. Now, so yeah. So you've landed now as the founder of black tech pipeline, having never been a recruiter before? So what what is black tech pipeline? What's the elevator pitch for that? Yeah, so black tech pipeline, we are a service based platform where we offer a recruitment and a job board. But we, our whole thing is like diversity, equity and inclusion of black technologists specifically. So when we recruit candidates, black technologists into companies, we stay on the job with them for 90 days, because we want to ensure that they're happy, safe and healthy in those environments. And we want to make sure that we can relay that information over to the employers so that they know, you know how to improve every hires experience and just do better on the D AI front. And then we have a job board, where we just kind of give this really transparent, you know, information about every company on our job board, and applicants can decide if that's a company they want to apply to or not, but it's based on, you know, what this company is doing to have a safe space, you know, have values that are meaningful, and people are learning like, you know, where are these companies doing? In regards to diversity, equity inclusion, like what sort of practices and policies do they have? What are their initiatives around it? To see, like, you know, do I feel like this company is being performative? Are they being actionable? And people apply based on that? Yeah, I love that. So, I want to focus in a little bit on the name itself, right, black tech pipeline. Now, I have a lot of feelings on this topic. I know you do, because you started a whole damn company around it. But, you know, for the listeners that aren't super familiar with the tech industry, although this is probably an issue that happens, you know, in a lot of industries that lack diversity, what we hear oftentimes, I actually heard this at my last job that I that I quit my very last tech job. You know, people at the top, the decision makers will say something along the lines of, I would love to have more diversity, I would love to have more black people, but there's a pipeline problem. They're just not applying. They just I you know, they're just not around. They're just not, they're just not here. So, like I said, I can I can go off about that. But I can you speak to that, like, from from your perspective, like, how you feel about that, like what what your thoughts are on that, you know, I know that of course, your response now could just be like, sign up for blackjack pipeline, but kind of, you know, beyond that, in a more general sense, you know what, what comes to mind for you when you hear people We'll say that ignorant ass bullshit. Yeah, so it's been a pipeline problem. It's a network problem. And it's a personal network problem when you predominantly white companies, because they're full of only white people, that's their network is also other white people. And so companies love to do the whole referral thing where it's like, tell your friends and families to come work here and you'll get the referral bonus, or whatever it is. And they're referring their other very white networks. And so you continue building this very light, like company. And when they put out, you know, job postings, or whatever, well, where are you putting those job postings? Is it on, you know, like, indeed, and LinkedIn and these predominantly white platforms? Well, there you go, that those are, those are people who are seeing it, those are people who are applying. And when you're not going out and making an effort to like, build a diverse network, then I don't really know what you expect, people aren't just gonna apply because your company like people don't know, first of all, they don't know your company exists. They don't know you exist. And that's why it's important, again, to build a network. That's what social media is for, if you don't go out and actively do it, you know, on a physical level, you can do it online, you have Twitter, you can literally Google, you know, black tech platforms, black tech job boards, and you can do that for any sort of like underrepresented community. It's literally like a Google away. And so I just think like, the whole pipeline problem is a bullshit excuse. You're just being lazy, and you don't really care. Exactly. And it's escaped code. And it's so you know, it's it's kind of a self fulfilling prophecy type thing, kind of, like you said, it's like, if someone is saying that, you know, there's a pipeline problem, it's like, you can't say that there's a pipeline problem. And then also live in this world where you know, that everything is connection based, everything is network based, you know, it's not what you know, it's who you know, and you're right. Most most employers feel more comfortable hiring people that they know, you know, both, I worked in two major tech jobs before, before leaving the industry, the first one, I knew someone in that company, emailed them directly, and said, Hey, this is what I'm doing. Now. I know how to code blah, blah, blah, whatever. They referred me directly to their recruiter got the job, when they weren't even advertising a job opening. The next time around. I knew again, I knew someone that worked there, it was actually, my bootcamp mentor was working there. And so she was able to vouch for me, say, I think they had to advertise a job at that point. But same thing, just very easy to get in. And so when you're, when you most people only know people with similar backgrounds to them, right? Whether it's, you know, the same background and sexuality, same background and race, same background in class and class upbringing, and to say that, oh, people must not want to, you know, be involved in this because, you know, we're just not seeing that. It's like, Where are you even looking? And so that's a huge, that's a huge gap. You know, and you're and you're filling that gap. So I know that a big part of what what got you into this was the the hashtag black tech Twitter, you're you're the founder, I guess. Oh, co founders right word for hashtag creator? Yeah, something like that. Like you, you kind of started this trend black tech Twitter. So can you can you kind of explain those like how, how you came to do that? And and like, What inspired you to put that hashtag out there? Yeah, it's actually really funny. Um, yeah, so I was on Twitter, not even for that, maybe a month or so. And that's where I discovered that there was a really tiny community of black technologists. And before that, before I got on to Twitter. You know, I was working in tech as a software engineer. But every company that I worked at, I wasn't like, just the only woman on the team. But I was literally the only black person in the entire company for every company that I've worked at. So I was convinced like, there just aren't really black people in tech. And I was proven wrong once I got onto Twitter. And I wanted to know, like, how many more of us are out there? Like, it's so small, like, I just figured I'd post a tweet. And I didn't really I also like, didn't think anything of it. It was just a tweet, just like we tweet every day. So I posted you know, what does black Twitter since black Twitter is a thing in tech look like? So I posted that tweet, left it alone and then came back to my phone hours later. And the tweet was just like blowing up. And black technologists from all over the world were posted them posting themselves into that tweet. And it created a really long thread of like, their pictures and they were, you know, capturing what they do in the industry like, Oh, I'm a, I don't know I'm a ml engineer. I'm a this that like all these careers. I never Heard of in tech. And I was like, Oh my god, like, this is really cool. And it wasn't until someone tweeted to me like, Hey, I think you did something. I didn't realize like only, like, I think this is like a new community. And it was it was the black Twitter community. It was almost like we kind of found each other overnight. And that was pretty cool. And from that, like, you know, I got a lot of coverage in terms of like industry leaders were tweeting about it. The media was reaching out to me to publish things about the this new community. But then also employers were seeing that tweet, they were seeing all the engagement and all these new technologists, and they were like, Oh, my God, there isn't a pipeline problem. Right. And right. And so they started reaching out to me very consistently, asking if I would recruit candidates from this new community into their companies. So I said, maybe this question is like, ignorance around like, not understanding how Twitter works. well enough. But so you're saying you're getting like media opportunities and stuff like that? Because Yeah, like this thing kind of blew up overnight? How? How does it that as it grew, and this kind of became a community in and of itself? How were you able to kind of stay on top of like, people being able to point to you as, as the one who started all of that, like were, were you kind of putting yourself out there, as the person that started it. Were these journalists kind of digging up the original tweet and finding it. And that's how they're reaching out to you like, what, how did how did that part kind of come into fruition? Yeah, it was both. Um, and, and there are also people who didn't know that I like started eventually. But when it first kind of blew up, like, you know, people were writing about it on their own people were doing like newsletters and like news articles or whatever. But then I also had media like reaching out to me like, Hey, can we do a story on this? Like, let's talk about the pipeline problem. Let's talk about, you know, what's it like to be a black technologist and things like that. So I did a lot of those stories. But I also wasn't like on Twitter saying, hey, look, it's me. I started something wasn't like that. I was, I was kind of just chilling and kind of going along with it. Yeah, that's really cool. Okay, cool. So So you started. Okay, so you did this, mostly? Because you were like, I feel isolated. I don't even know where where my people are. And you're almost, I don't want to put words in your mouth. But maybe you're starting to get discouraged at this point. Like, am I even in the right field? Like, where is anybody? Like, am I going to constantly feel like I'm kind of swimming upstream? Always being the only one in the room? Was that was that kind of some of the feelings you were having? When you when you put that tweet out there? No. No, that was how I felt when I first entered the industry. And mind you like when black tech Twitter started, I was I wasn't even in tech for a whole year yet. Like I had entered the industry. And it was like a culture shock for me. Because before getting into tech, I was like, a waitress and a hostess and a wax specialist and things like that. And I was always surrounded by people who look like me. So thinking about my race just wasn't, it wasn't a thing. Like I was always surrounded by people who look like me. So it wasn't an issue. It wasn't until I got into tech that I noticed that I was always the only black person like in the room. And so when I got onto Twitter, I that's where I saw that there was already an exists a small, existing black, black community, black tech community. And all I want to do is see how many more of us were in the industry. And that was it. Yeah, that's really interesting. Yeah, that's a very different, you know, I feel like I've always felt like the outcast anywhere that I go. Like, I would never think to do something like flat like hashtag black tech Twitter, only because I'm just so used to always being the only one like, Oh, I'm the only LGBT person here. I'm the only black person here I'm the only this I'm the only that. And so for me, it's almost like my default is being the outcast. So I come in attack. I'm also the only black person I was the only black engineer at my first job. Towards the end, I was one of the only black employees period, I was the only black employee period for a very long time at my last job up until like maybe the last couple months or so we hired a second black engineer. So there's a whole two of us. I just I but for me, I'm just like, yep, makes sense. Like I'm always the odd one out I was usually like the youngest in any group like always so for you it was almost like, well, this can't be right. Like because you're just so used to like of course, there's other people that look like me all around because that was kind of your your experience all throughout all throughout life. Yeah. What about in school? Because you're Cambridge is that's a suburb that's like the Boston area, right? Yeah. Well, yeah, it's like Greater Boston. But Cambridge is very, very diverse. I'm like, now Not as much because gentrification. But back in my day, very diverse, like we had more people of color than white people in school. And so again, like I just it thinking about being like, the only black person just wasn't a thing. Yeah. And so it's like you get in and you're just like I said, it's almost, for lack of a better term. It's almost like I can't, like how am I going to operate like this like now like, let's let's go back to normal and go back to homeostasis, which for you was like, being around people who are like you and not having to feel like you're the only one. Right? I yeah, I like when I'm around. My people. I don't ever feel like I have to assimilate to a new culture. Like, I just feel like, we understand each other, I guess. Yeah. Like, I don't know, we talk the same. We understand, you know, things about each other and our families and just, there's so many things that we understand that are unspoken, I guess. And then I come in like to this new environment. It's predominantly white. And, you know, people are talking about things I've never experienced people are, you know, having conversations I'm not interested in. Like, they're, they're talking about experiences they've had that I'm like, Yeah, I could never afford to do that. So no, I'm there. And, like, people were just also like, straight up ignorant and, and straight up racist. And so that was uncomfortable. And it was different. Yeah, I think I think that's really interesting. So So, at what point I mean, the notice, like not having to assimilate in the past, then all of a sudden being like, this is weird. Like, I think that makes sense, too. Because going back to, like, always being the odd one out. And also, you know, like, I have an immigrant parent, my dad's from Tanzania. And immigrant parents can generally fall into two camps, right? There's the one that like, tries to almost raise their kid as as if they're not even in America, right? Like there's so they, they completely surround their kids with their, with their culture, their motherland, that they know everything about the culture in and out. And then there's the other ones that say, I can't in America, that my kids can be American, like kinda kinda, you know, kind of, they're like, what past what would have been and my dad is kind of in that latter camp. I mean, I have my mom's German last name, for Christ's sake, like, just completely assimilated. And so for me again, it's like, I'm just like, all of these things that you're talking about with like having people that have like, you know, they're talking about things that don't interest you, or you can't relate to, like, I can relate to feeling that way. But my response to it was so different was just like, yeah, this is life. Like, I'm just always gonna be the weirdo outcast, you know. And so, I think that that's so interesting how, like, our, you know, what the things that we are in aren't willing to tolerate based off, like, what our background is, like, why would you suddenly as an adult be like, well, I guess I'm gonna go into my box after never having to feel like that all the way, you know, all the way up until it was 2017 2018. That's you got an attack? Yeah. So, yep. Yeah. So it's like, why, why all of a sudden do that. Whereas for me, I had to, like, kind of understand, like, wait, I don't have to do this all the time, like coming to find black tech, Twitter was this like, like, it was like this whole new world for me, because I didn't it, it just never occurred to me that it would even be possible. It's just so interesting. had someone on the show recently, Megan parrot, she has a community of like, moms who are entrepreneurs, and, you know, moms of young kids specifically. And her whole thing was like, she was trying to find a mother's group that wasn't really focused on the kid. And just like, this is what my kids are doing. And I'm just like, Anderson's mom or whatever, like she, and so she went out and created it, right. So that's kind of exactly what you did, like you'd recognize immediately, because like I said, you were more equipped to recognize that than someone like me was, you're able to recognize like, Hey, there should be more of us out here. Like, I don't want to just feel like I'm the only black person everywhere I go, like, Where are y'all at? Like, you kind of threw up the bat signal like black Check Twitter where y'all that? You know, and you you created that that community? So yeah, I think that that's really cool. When did you start? Yeah, when did you start seriously helping with like being that plug for recruitment? So like, how long after that initial tweet? Did you really start like kind of playing a role for free in like kind of helping employers find other black technologists like that started immediately, honestly, like he or the night I guess the night of that was going like, viral like I had employers all in my DNS. Like, and so I feel like it just kind of started immediately. And for me, I was like, oh, like this would be really dope. Like to get more black people in tech? Yeah. I was like, I can't be that hard to like, just introduce people and recruit them. And so what I did was I created a discord community at first. And that's where I kind of led all of like black tech Twitter to go and continue networking and like building relationships and stuff. So I led them into this Discord. And I would also use that discord to recruit people. So it started off that way. Like, I was like, Hey, I'm currently recruiting for this employer, do you want you know, I just said, you want to talk to them? people be like, yeah, and so I would introduce them, and then the employer would take over from there and interview them. And people were getting hired, like, left and right. And so it was like, really simple to me. I had my nine to five as a software engineer, and then I'm, you know, people are being recruited into companies. And I was doing that for a long, long time. And the reason why, like black tech pipeline came to be, was because a lot of the people that I actually recruited into companies, they came back to me, or they publicly stated it, and they were like, you know, I left this company, because, you know, it's the same thing, like, you know, they're performative. They hired us to check a box, you know, we weren't learning or growing, and like, it was just the same bullshit that we deal with everywhere. Yeah. And I felt horrible. And I knew it reflected badly on me. And as like this new leader of a community, which I had never done before, I felt bad because I didn't vet any of these employers who reached out to me. I just said, like, yeah, yeah, this would be dope, of course, I'll recruit for you. And so from there, I was like, Alright, like, if I'm gonna do this work, you know, I want to be ethical, and I want to do it. Right. So that's where I built like, a black tech pipelining created that new recruitment model that I have. Yeah, that totally makes sense. So were you. Were you doing any of that work to start vetting the companies before turning this into a company? Or was that kind of how that evolution worked? Was? Started once I found out that people were like, quitting and or even like, getting fired for like, really dumb shit. I was like, Okay, I actually stopped recruiting for a while so that I could build black tech pipeline and, and create this new model. Wow, that's really interesting. So because I was gonna add, my next question was was going to be like, at what point did you kind of like, realize that this was something that you could like, make money off of like, were like switching from like doing it, like voluntarily on the side to making it a business? And it It sounds like at least part of the motivation was like, hey, my reputations on the line, like, I don't want to keep like, sending people to these unvetted companies and having it not work out, like I actually care about this community that, that that's kind of inbuilt in this Discord. Right? Yes. So was that was that a lot? Like, was that kind of the main thing? Or like, were you still thinking at that point that this would kind of be something on the side, and he just wanted more structure? Like, at what point did the Oh, I can really make a profit off of this thought and strategy kind of come into the picture? Yeah, so I honestly wasn't going to turn this into a business, I really wanted to only focus on being a software engineer and getting really good. But I was like, you know, this is like their software engineering. And then there's like, really like being able to, like lead something and actually make a difference and be the one making the rules and create an impact. So I was like, hey, like, what if I just like, like, actually recruited people, companies pay me, but but they don't only pay me to recruit. It's like, I'm also checking in to make sure that these companies aren't being performative. And people aren't going through the same bullshit that they were when I was last recruiting. Yeah, it's like half recruiting and half consulting. Right? And I'm like, like, cuz I want to hold employers accountable. And I want to make sure that these hires are happy, safe and healthy. Because if they're not, I don't want to continue working for these types of employers. And so that was like the turnaround for me. Yeah, so do you? Do you miss software engineering ever? Like what how is it felt to kind of like, step away from that? What, what what led you to check initially? Like, what was your main motivation to become a software engineer? Like, did you really have a passion for or were you just like, here's a way to make some money, like money, money, money, you know what I mean? Yeah, it was. So it was two things. I guess. Like at the end of the day, it was money. Like I was realizing that without a technical background, you're probably going to get left behind and people were being like, replaced by machines as they say. And like, for me, I was a whack specialist full time and it felt like this would have happened like anytime soon, but I was losing some clientele to laser hair removal, which is a machine and I was like, I'm actually being impacted and I didn't realize it till like someone told me. I was like, okay, like I guess I'll do like learn coding. And the only reason why I got into coding was because that's the only thing that I knew existed in tech. Yeah. But I didn't know coding was a thing. Like literally until like 2016 2017. And so I, that's just what I did. I was like, hey, like, how can I learn to code? I was in online school at the time. And so I was talking to like my little counselor, and they're like, Oh, hey, like, if you want to learn to code, there's this boot camp called resilient coders where they pay and teach people of color from underserved communities to code. And they happen to be holding a hackathon that weekend, where they choose people to join their cohort. And so I went to that hackathon, I ended up getting chosen to join the cohort. And then like, a few weeks later, I quit my full time job and went straight into learning to code. That's cool. Okay, so yeah, so yeah, so so it was never necessarily like, you wanted to get into tech, but it was never necessarily important that you did software engineering specifically. So kind of kind of makes sense how you're able to, like, walk away from it. Now, do you think, do you think you would have like pursued a different route into tech if you had a better understanding of like, the different avenues and ways to be involved in tech without coding? Yeah, I'm, like really interested in design. And specifically for like, virtual reality, I thought that would have been really cool. But since I didn't know that existed, like, I'll just stick to coding. It's not like I hated coding. But it was definitely like, I also didn't wake up early in the morning. Excited to do it, if that makes sense. Yeah, I feel Yeah. Um, were you were you self employed? Or as a as a wax specialist ever? Or is this the kind of your first foray into entrepreneurial ship to that no, no wax, but I was, I went to school to be an aesthetician, and I became a specialist from that, and I was working at like this big chain for waxing. So I, you know, I wasn't like, self employed. But after learning to code, I also didn't do like any type of freelance or anything I got, like jobs at companies. Wow. So you, wow. So this is actually a pretty, pretty sharp left turn for you in multiple directions, you didn't have any experience recruiting? You know, like didn't, and also hadn't like started your own business ever before. So this is, this is kind of a pretty big leap of faith that you took here, like, yeah, that have been really fucking scary in the beginning, wasn't it? It wasn't that it wasn't. I feel like I've always kind of been that way. Like, you know, I moved to New York, by myself to go to school. And then I moved to LA by myself to try and become an actress. And this is like, without a networker, people who I know. Yeah, so I took leaps before, this was a little more scary, because I also had a child. Right, but I have bills to pay advocate to feed out the feed myself. And so like, I was not going to fail. Like, I just, it couldn't happen. So when I when I went into this, like, I knew that I was going to like, sacrifice everything and like, learn this shit and get good at it and thrive. Because I don't have an option. Yeah, I think that's really cool. So So you mentioned you went to New York and LA, you you were in LA to pursue acting. You had no network? You you specifically pointed out you had no network. Did you? Did you feel at that point? Or did you kind of understand later on in retrospect, it's like, the difference that having a network would have made if you had like, moved to LA, like, knowing people, like At what point did you kind of really become consciously aware of that? Yeah. So for LA specifically, I noticed that people wanted absolutely nothing to do with me, because I didn't have a network. Yeah, I didn't know anyone I couldn't. I wasn't beneficial to anybody. And so it was really hard to build relationships at all. It was hard to make friends. It was hard to be taken seriously. And so that's how I realized I was like, Wow, it's really about who you know, for some industries. So that's like, where I first learned that truth. Yeah, definitely. So did you So between, between, like acting and then before you get into tech, like, Are you are you doing any work to kind of build a network as you're learning how to collect? Did you feel yourself like being more conscious of building networks in any in the careers that you had after acting after having that experience? Not so much with what Well, I guess with waxing, I didn't have a choice but to build a network because I had clientele. I just happened to be like, the best waxer there. And so I had I had like really big clients. I had lots of celebrities. I had lots of like, influencers and things like that who came to me and I was always booked. And from that that's actually like when I first learned that coding existed one of my clients was an engineer for Rent the Runway, I believe. And she was like, get into tech. There are no women in tech, like coatings really easy this and that. And I was like, Yeah, maybe. And now here I am. But like, yeah, that's how I learned about coding at first. That's very similar to how I learned about coding I, I was working casino security in Vegas. And there was this vendor, we ran the like parking garage, because he had to, like pay to push. So we had like, one of our people would work the parking booth. And so they were installing a new gate for the parking booth or the parking garage, and the guy that was like programming it and installing it. He like, looks at me, he's like, how old are you? I was like, 23. How much money do you make $12 an hour. He's like, dude, you got to learn how to code. Like, same thing. It's so easy. We know, no bow line. So that same night, like started looking into it. And that started my journey. So again, I mean, that's, that's the network thing. It's always, you know, you never you never know where that like spark of inspiration is gonna come from, like, you know, when when people you know, for the listeners, when people tell you something, give you a suggestion, it sounds even remotely interesting look into it, because it could change the entire direction of your life like you have no idea. I think that's really cool. Oh, yeah. As you're learning to code like I did. So. Were you doing anything to try to network? Yeah, like what What had you done to network prior to the black tech Twitter tweet. So during boot camp, is actually what I loved about like resilient coders. Specifically, they made you like you didn't have a choice but to network, or else you would get kicked out of the program. And the way they made sure that you networked? was you had to bring in a certain amount of business cards to them per week, and you have to show it to them. Oh, wow. Oh, yeah. So when I tell you throughout that whole program, I went out like literally every single night with my cohort and mind you, my cohort became like my family. We loved each other to death. We always have fun together. So we were in Boston, which is this massive tech hub. So we were going out to every event like every meetup, everything we went out every single night, we went listen to talks, you know, got involved with community things. And that's how we network and that people got their business cards had coffee chats with them. We we always had to have coffee chats as well. Yeah, I had no choice but to network. And so that also made my career. Yeah, that's really cool. I love that. So once you once you're out of the boot camp, and you like kind of stops. Oh, yeah, once you're out of the boot camp, did you kind of like stop networking for a little while before before getting on a trip? Looking like No, absolutely not. And the hustle never stops. I love the I just I started loving it. Like I don't feel like I was ever really good at it. I'm really bad at initiating conversation. But I'm really good at going out. Like I love going out everything and like, you know, conversation, because just kind of happens naturally. It's helpful when you go with other people, because sometimes there's someone who's willing to start that conversation and, you know, you just meet people. And so, yeah, I just enjoyed it. Because I was literally going out. And I just so happened that I got to build a network like that as well. Well, I will say it is hard to build, just initiate conversation person, much easier to do online. So you know, to be able to cuz that's what you did when you start, you would literally started the conversation, right? So I think that that's really cool. So if I could summarize, we're just about out of time here. If I if I can summarize, you grew up in a very diverse area and stayed in mostly diverse fields with Well, yeah, I guess that is an exception in acting, you know, acting is not a super diverse field and you came to LA, and you realize very quickly Oh, shit without a network, like, I don't have anything like I'm not gonna be able to get anywhere. So you know, you you, you come back to the east coast and you're you're building this clientele with waxing. And you're, you're kind of seeing the power of networking. And again, you're surrounded by your people. So you're not really having to assimilate much. You get into tech, you're really really learning how to network or going out to events, you're literally having to show proof. Networking is becoming a bigger and bigger and bigger part of your career and how you keep your career going. And once you get an attack and you realize like, Oh shit, no one even looks like me, which probably might have even been more of a shock because it sounds like resilient coders was probably diverse and so then you people of color. Yeah. And then you get is like Okay, you guys all get to split up now. Good luck, right? And so you're like, oh, like this Got your first time not really being in a community where you felt like you could be yourself in the workplace. And so you're kind of taking everything and just going on to Twitter and being like, okay, Where is everybody? Like, I know, I, you know, like, you kind of know, like your roots are to network. So you're like, Okay, like, let's see who's out there. And and now here you are, and like having that like flexibility and willingness from doing so many different things to like, you know, if you had never gone out to LA to pursue acting, who who knows maybe that leap of faith into pursuing black type pipeline, maybe that would have been too much. But you, you known that like, you've been able to take risks and land on your feet, even even if it didn't work out the way that you wanted to? So like, why the hell not? And you had already built this reputation so so why the hell not? So I guess the main thing for the listeners is like, you know, when you feel like something is is missing, kind of see if there's something in your past, where you know, that that is missing specifically, like for you. It was like the, you know, you never felt like you had to assimilate. And now you do so what, what can you do to feel like you don't have to assimilate anymore? Go find that people who were like you, right? I think that that's really cool. And I love again, that you're filling this need, and that's why it's working out, right. Like there are people who kind of understand that the pipeline problem is bullshit, but they don't know where to start, because they don't know anybody. So you're becoming that, you know, a person that they that can be in their network that, you know, it's kind of a two way street of trust, like you're vetting the companies, but you're also vetting the engineers. And so you're you know, and it all kind of comes back to your reputation being important to you. I think. I think that's really cool. I love it. Thank you. Yeah, yeah. And not, you don't only have to reach out to black pipeline, like literally get on to Twitter. Yeah, and find so many different communities on there. It's literally insane. get jobs off of there the opportunities like Twitter is the goat. Truly, truly, yeah. I mean, seriously, like anybody that's that's thinking about getting it, I was actually just telling my friend earlier today, she's she's looking into boot camps and stuff, and isn't gonna be able to start for a little while. I was like, honestly, she's doing like little free coding things here. And there. I was, like, honestly, you're better off building your community right now like that boot camp will teach you once you get in, like, who cares about that part, build your community now. Because that's what's going to be really, really valuable. And so, yeah, I love that. And that, and that's true that I mean, tech, you know, Twitter happens to be where a lot of the tech people are, that might not necessarily be the same for every industry, like I know, in in comedy, which I'm like, was kind of pursuing for a while now. I wanted to be more of a hobby, but that, you know, there's there's a lot of people on Twitter, but there's also a lot of people on Instagram there. I know, there's a tech community on Instagram. I don't think it's as big as on Twitter. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So like, finding out where the people are, and, and being there, right, even, you know, like, if you're trying to date a certain type of person, you need to figure out where they're at on Saturday night and be there. So same thing for your job, like where are those people go hang out there social media is nothing if not virtual coffee shops, basically, people are hanging out and spending their time in between work and family time. And and just hang out, like comment on posts just kind of be around mingle, and you never know what might happen. Exactly. Very cool. Well, thank you very much for coming on Paris, I, I like it. Like I said, I love what you're doing. And again, I mean, that's the other thing to take away. It's like when you see that people are really appreciating what you're doing. And you're putting a lot of effort into it, find a way to turn it into a business like Paris did with black tech pipeline. I mean, you you could have stayed volunteering to do this, but then that would have become unsustainable at a certain point, because you do have a kid and a partner and you had a whole other career at the time. So like, trying to do all that and actually be of use in service to that black tech pipeline community. At a certain point, it would have become unsustainable, it wouldn't have been able to grow the way that it has now. So I think it's really cool that you like recognize that need and we're we're able to do it. It's awesome. Thank you. So do you. Do you have anything else that you that you want to say that you feel like you'd be remiss if you if you left it out? Before before we wrap things up here? I just literally always tell people please utilize social media like please engage and be active and build relationships on there because I promise you, there's just too much opportunity that you will miss if you are like not active. Just Just go for it. Just do it. Just tweet it. Just post it just do it and things will happen. set another way. shoot your shot. shoot your shot. Yes, exactly. Don't be shy. Just do it. Exactly. Yeah, like Mackie hoof, just do it. I love I love that awesome parents, is there anything that you would like to promote? Head over to black tech pipeline comm for our job board or to be considered for job opportunities, or if you're an employer to hire us for recruitment or to use our job board, and join the community, by going on Twitter or even LinkedIn and Instagram, you can literally just search the hashtag black tech Twitter and you will find us add yourself to the thread on my profile, which you'll find at Paris. Athena on Twitter, and follow at bt pipeline on all social medias. Awesome. And the links for all that are in the show notes. Again, Paris, thank you so much for coming on. Tell Nick that I said hello. And oh, he's literally right there. Hey, Nick. All right. Hi. I didn't know you could hear it. Hey, hey, Jake. Welcome to welcome to my podcast. Maybe, maybe I can get a slot on that. I stopped myself. Oh, I'm lacking the confidence. Yes, yes. Well, absolutely. Have you on to Don't worry, Nick. I gotcha. All right. I'm just gonna hit stop. But uh, but yeah, thank you for coming on. And I will talk to you later. Yeah, thank you enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you. All right. Once again, that was Paris Athena. Very cool to see how her humble beginnings as an actress and a wax specialist, got her to where she is today as this recruiter and she really is the plug, she bridges the gap. If you're like I said before, if you're one of those leaders, where you look around and and everybody has the same background as you and have the same perspectives and have the same blind spots, as you, you know, pairs can be one of those people that you can add into your networks that you do have that perspective. I think that's really cool. Thank you again, for listening to the show. Thank you again for all of your support. If you've enjoyed what you heard here today, please leave me a five star review. A written review would be fantastic. It's like currency in this world. Take a screenshot Make this your Instagram story, tag me at Leo Yockey. That's LEOYOCKEY link in the show notes. And you know what, I know I've been a little bit back and forth with this, but we actually are going to be wrapping up season one pretty soon here. Next week, I have a really special episode, it's going to be the best of season one. And just all my favorite clips from this season so far, followed by a really, really special season one finale with my friend, a somatic healer. We're gonna be talking a lot about the body and intuition and healing and it's going to be good. And then we'll be rolling right into season two, and we'll have a slightly different format for that, but I'll get into all that later. Again, thank you for being part of the show. Thank you for listening. I'll see you next week with the best collection stay evolving.